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New Mexico Voting Rights Act Passes Senate

voting .jpeg
Gino Gutierrez

After about a three hour debate the New Mexico State Senate passed the Voting Rights Act Wednesday on a party line vote.

The act is much like a bill in the legislature last year that was filibustered to death on the last day of the session.

 HB4 would require automatic voter registration, automatically restore a felon’s right to vote after completing their sentence, create a permanent absentee voter list, and require at least two secure drop boxes in each county.

The bill also includes the Native American Voting Rights Act. It would establish precinct boundaries to align with tribal boundaries, allow the use of public buildings on tribal lands to be used as mailing addresses, require language interpreters at polling locations, expand early voting opportunities and provide necessary resources to county clerks so they can comply with all aspects of the new laws.

Senate sponsor Katy Duhigg says it will benefit all voters in New Mexico. 

“This also ensures that rural voters, young voters, women, native americans, newly naturalized citizens, economically diverse voters and voters of color have a streamlined and secure registration experience so they can access the ballot and hae a say in their government,” she said.   

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who has supported the bill and acted as the bill’s expert witness during committee hearings and floor sessions, praised the bill and the positive impacts it will have for New Mexico voters:

“The New Mexico Voting Rights Act builds on our state’s already established position as a national voting rights leader by further improving both voter access and election integrity. As federal voting bills are stymied in Congress and voting rights come under attack across the nation, states like New Mexico must step up to protect these rights. The New Mexico Voting Rights Act balances the demands for voter access with the needs of maintaining our high levels of election security and I’m thankful to the bill’s sponsors –  Senator Katy Duhigg and Representatives Javier Martinez, Gail Chasey, D. Wonda Johnson, and Raymundo Lara – and all the members of the public and multiple county clerks from around the state who have shown such strong support. I look forward to seeing this critical piece of legislation signed by Governor Lujan Grisham when it reaches her desk.”

Senate Republican Leader Greg Baca issued a statement following the passage of the bill.

“I am incredibly disappointed in the Secretary of State and Democratic legislators who put progressive special interests above the people of New Mexico with the passage of this legislation. The result is a bill that was opposed by many of our county clerks and every Republican in the legislature. The only beneficiaries of this legislation are felons and those seeking to compromise the integrity of our elections.”

The bill now goes back to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to the Governor who says she will sign it.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.